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At any time, either parent or the child’s legal guardian can ask for a change (called a “modification”) to increase or decrease the amount of court-ordered child support. You can petition the court yourself with the help of your county’s Family Law Facilitator or a private attorney, or your local child support agency can review your case at no charge. 

Please note, if you are not receiving child support services through a local child support agency, a case can be opened for you at any time. If you are currently paying child support, your local agency is there to help you avoid problems with non-payment.

You should ask for a modification if:

  • You are laid off or fired from your job
  • You get a new or additional job
  • Your income or the other parent’s income increases or decreases
  • Custody or visitation changes
  • Your family size changes
  • You become disabled
  • You go to jail or prison
  • You are deployed to active military service

You will need proof of:

  • Your income and expenses
  • Any child care expenses
  • Medical insurance
  • Your disability status
  • Jail or prison status
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Retirement income
  • Your current custody and visitation arrangements

After reviewing the information that you and the other parent provide, your local agency will determine whether a modification is needed, and if so, decide on a new amount of support. As a general rule, modification may be granted if the support order would change by 20% or $50, whichever is less.

If you and the other party can agree to the support amount ahead of time, you can sign a “Stipulated Agreement” that must be filed with the court – many (but not all) child support agencies can help you create this agreement. If there is no agreement, you will receive a notice to appear in court for a hearing where a judge or commissioner will decide the amount.

If the other party lives in another state, your child support agency may have to request that the other state conduct a review and request a modification.

Points to remember:

  • Either parent (or a guardian) can request a modification from their local child support agency
  • To request a modification you must have an open case (a case can be opened at any time)
  • Your child support order can go up or down based on information gathered (the order may not be what you expected)
  • There is no charge for requesting a modification
  • Even if your request is denied by your local agency, you can still go to court to have a judge or a county child support commissioner decide your order (your county’s Family Law Facilitator can help you do this)